Happy Birthday Ray Austin! OR That’s How Direction Snowballs

As I have dutifully promised, despite the holiday ‘hiatus’ and my rather limited time during it, whenever there is any Randall and Hopkirk news, you best bet your sweet bippy I will somehow, someway post about it! 🙂

Happy 85th Birthday to Ray Austin! He was/is not only among the original AND forever best Randall and Hopkirk’s more prolific directors having directed six episodes (“A Disturbing Case”, “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”, “The House On Haunted Hill”, “When The Spirit Moves You”, “Money To Burn”, and “You Can Always Find A Fall Guy”), but also was one of two cast and crew members to actually write an episode with “That’s How Murder Snowballs” (the other being Mike Pratt with “A Disturbing Case”). Ray was/is such a champion of the show that, per Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers, he once wanted to get Randall and Hopkirk back up and running as an American comedy sometime during the late 80s/early 90s, but could never secure the rights from ITC.

Here he is, as seen in the still can’t be recommended enough (even after the release of the Blu-Ray!) Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary. Happy Birthday Ray! *raises her coffee mug in his direction*

Caroline “Well, it was either ‘That’s How Direction Snowballs’ or ‘International Man of Direction’…” Smith

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No, I’m Not Dead (Well Not Literally, Nor Even Figuratively) OR Tis The Season

First and foremost, I apologize for the absolute lack of entries this month…but it has been one thing after another with the holidays having arrived and life and their laundry lists taking up my schedule a bit for the time being. Unfortunately, the blog has been and still will be a victim of being on the backburner because of these circumstances. Plus, and as noted before, the lack of classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) news currently does not help either, especially with my not having as much time to craft the considerably more sizable writings as I would like to have and eventually will again. So, as much as I hate to do so, I am announcing a holiday hiatus of sorts until January.

Yes, ‘of sorts’…if anything newsworthy in the world of original Randall and Hopkirk does come along between now and January 2nd, you best bet your sweet bippy I will post/discuss it. That said, albeit belated, I am very sorry to report that the great Keith Barron, who played Jarvis in the “When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?” episode, passed away five days ago/on November 15th, and my personal condolences and deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Barron’s family, friends, and other fellow fans.

When time allots, I will still be working on my notes and drafts for the following upcoming features for The Ghostess Talks.

  • – My episode review/analysis of “A Disturbing Case”.
  • – My review of the Network Blu-Ray boxset (it’s real and it’s fantastic).
  • – A list that will explore otherworldly matters in the most actual sense (so you most advisedly won’t have to).

I will also remain very available to contact and discuss Randall and Hopkirk/The Ghostess Talks/related via Facebook and Tumblr, as well as super active as possible in both Facebook Randall and Hopkirk groups (this one and this one) of which I am quite proudly a member. If you have any questions and/or want to chat, feel incredibly more than free to drop a line.

Thank you very, VERY much for your patience and understanding, and at the rate this year has flown, January will be here well before any of us know it. Until then, or at least if anything newsworthy comes along before then, Happy Thanksgiving (at least to fellow American Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses, as well as any and everyone else who wants to celebrate), Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! And may all of your dinners on November 23rd and/or December 24th/25th and December 31st be as delicious as most thoroughly no doubt this was thirty-seven years ago.

Courtesy of the April 19th-26th, 1980 edition of Women’s Realm.

None other than the real life wife of Marty Hopkirk, Renny Cope, prepared that smorgasbord for an issue of Women’s Realm and an article within about her and Kenneth Cope’s (unfortunately now defunct and for sometime) restaurant called Martha’s Kitchen (named after their daughter and youngest child who went on to be an actor just like her dad and mum!) in Oxfordshire. You can read that very article here…

 

Courtesy of the April 19th-26th, 1980 edition of Women’s Realm.

…and just as a tremendous bit of love and care went into that eatery and its food, glorious food, consider this closing my own special and delicious way of saying that hiatus or not, this ghostess and her love and care for this here place and the community to which it caters is not at all going away. Just taking a month-long (okay, two month long) day off…and don’t we all deserve that at least every once in a long while?

With or without wine coolers on hand (evidently, I am now trapped in the 80s), thank you for your support.

Caroline “I’m like an Advent calendar…bringing the sweetness regardless of a designated time.” Smith

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The Top Thirteen Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Episodes To Watch On Halloween OR All Treats, No Tricks! (For The Most Part)

At the risk of giving several readers a case of deja vu, that took a little while, didn’t it? I apologize for the delay and long lull between posts…but it is a great time to say that such periods can be expected on and off here at The Ghostess Talks. And primarily because of at least one of two things…

  • – As much as I hate to admit it, there are times where there really is not much, if any noteworthy news and recent/current tidbits pertaining to the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and around which to craft posts.
  • – The chances are near 100% that if life has not gotten in the way, give or take a few days, I am more than most likely working on the next feature article, I.E. an episode review, list, or something else.

That said, please do not fret what-so-ever whenever there are two-three weeks between posts…if anything, get excited because something grand is to eventually arrive!

Welcome to the first ever list AND Halloween party in the history of The Ghostess Talks! And please do not be spooked by the magic number for this and most lists being thirteen…there is actually a good reason for it. Given that a sizable portion of my lists will be comparing the best that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) has to offer versus the lesser things (can’t be said enough…no such thing as ‘worst’ here), I feel it best to be even-keeled and split all twenty-six episodes down the middle, giving us thirteen for each end of the spectrum. I will also admit that I just like the number in all of its appropriate mysticism, as well as also like a bit of consistency between most of my lists.

In the wide world of ITC, there is no program far more suited for Halloween than Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). And even though all twenty-six episodes do feature our favorite ghost and white suit wearer to various degrees, some are very much more focused on Marty Hopkirk, his powers, and other ghostly and spooky matters considerably more than others. These are, at least in my opinion, the Randall and Hopkirk episodes best suited for a Halloween soiree screening or a simple holiday binge-watch.

13. “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave”– So many things about this episode that scream Halloween and its inclusion on this list…

  • – The very title itself.
  • – The opening scene in the graveyard with one of only two times we ever see Marty Hopkirk in all of his white-suited glory in the moonlight (the other being the very end of “Vendetta For A Dead Man”…there so should have been more such shots than just two in the entire series).
  • – All of the time spent in and around the cemetery and funeral parlor.
  • – The uber-utilization of coffins between what I consider to be the best part AND quote of the episode courtesy of Marty (This takes me back. Whatever you do, get one that fits!) and the meat of the so-called bad guys’ plot.
  • – The so-called bad guys’ (consisting of probably the most surreptitious funeral home director in all of telly-dom, or at least outside of Six Feet Under, AND his assistant played by Geoffrey ‘Onslow/Keeping Up Appearances‘ Hughes!) use of eighteenth century ghost figure costumes.
  • – As much as it gets on my nerves (as I will cover sometime from now in my review/analysis of this episode AND future lists), one could argue that Jeff’s being handled as a psychopath is borderline Halloween-ish.

So why only #13?

Pure and simply because it is a weak and just not all that good an episode compared to others. This is honestly tied with “The Man From Nowhere” (and I was debating having this episode in this list for the sheer creepiness of a conman stalking a dead man’s widow AND claiming to be her late husband having just returned from beyond the grave, but decided to relegate it to an honorable mention right here) for my utmost lesser episode of all twenty-six. I can and will never lay claim to disliking an original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk episode…but great googily moogily, this one does drive me a little bonkers between everyone BUT Jeff Randall arguably being a villain of sorts (yes, even Marty and Jeannie as much as they initially disbelieve Jeff AND very nearly want to have him committed!) and the central supporting characters not exactly being the most likable and resonating people in the world…a ‘fake’ millionaire and his ‘son and heir’ who is nothing more than a living parody of 60s counter-culture…crazy, man, crazy.

Somebody just walked over my grave indeed.

It really is a shame for this is truly one of the more Halloween-ish episodes of the series. If only ITC had allowed Kenneth Cope to execute his brilliant idea to have actually shown Marty Hopkirk helping the English football team with scoring the winning goal instead of only hearing about preventing the German team from emerging victorious in a dialogue exchange between Jeff and Marty. Such a crafty notion might have actually saved this episode from the rock bottom tier…or at the very least, would have easily, EASILY been the episode’s other best individual moment alongside Marty’s coffin quip.

12. “The Smile Behind The Veil”– And just like that, we are at the episodes that are not necessarily Halloween-ish through and through, but they have one or two such moments that make them an absolute must for inclusion on this list. “The Smile Behind The Veil” being left out would be an utter crime with it having these three features…

  • – A beautifully done cemetery scene with Marty watching over Jeannie placing some flowers at his grave.
  • A seamless segue into the funeral of his new neighbour, Caroline Seaton (who, in my opinion, would have been a fantastic unseen but sometimes talked about ghost character had Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) landed at least a second season/series), and the title-sake scene.
  • And, dare I say, most importantly of all, THE ONE TIME we see Jeff Randall as a ghost, complete with the iconic white suit!

Unlike the entry before it, the storyline of this one is considerably finer with better defined antagonists, the main characters being more on target with their characterization, the main supporting character (the real Donald Seaton) being more sympathetic, and a twisty yet easy to follow plot truly and deservedly distinctive of many a good private eye vehicle. I do wonder how much more remembered this episode would be versus others if it had not been for Jeff briefly being a ghost (which, quite unfortunately, was usurped and misused in the bloody remake…that will be further discussed in a future list) and the episode happening to be the last ever aired one in the London Weekend Television programming order versus only the seventh episode in the production order. Given the rather haphazard manner in which episodes were aired, ANY of the twenty-five episodes other than “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” could have easily been the last ever one (and kinda sorta were given the different affiliates and their airing orders). But I for one am glad this episode had the distinction of being the last one between the left wide open imaginative potential of Marty’s neighbour, among other things, and especially the closing exchange in both dialogue and expressions between Jeff and Marty making for a nice series ending note.

11. “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!”– Speaking of other ghosts…I can hear some of you right now… “Aw, c’mon! Why didn’t you pick “You Can Always Find A Fall Guy” instead of this one?!” Well, and consider this my other honorable mention, “Fall Guy” is not at all a bad candidate for this list, and I certainly thought of it. But, as much as I really, REALLY dig the small display of never-seen-before-or-since powers from Marty…

  • – His ability to change a person’s reflection to that of him.
  • – And communicating with clinically dead people.

…let’s face it, Bugsy ‘Smiler’ Spanio’s display of powers…

  • – Being able to be seen by anyone he chooses.
  • – Altering the color/pattern of what he wears.
  • – Being able to have a cigar.
  • – Pulling other spirits into the past with him.
  • – Weather control(!!! and used to terrifying effect in frightening Jeannie).
  • – Etcetera.

…blows Marty’s “Fall Guy” set out of the water and into orbit. But what surrounds such a marvelous demonstration of what Marty could potentially do, give or take forty years or so (if not sooner, given what Marty can already do AND how strong his vibrations are said to be at least once or twice) is the very reason this episode is only #11. In my Internet meanderings through the years, “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” has tended to be a bone of contention between many a Randall and Hopkirk ghost, with it being liked or disliked with almost no in-between. ‘Almost’ because I consider myself an in-betweener when it comes to critiquing this episode. “Murder!” is overall a terrific concept that just could have been better executed in a couple of spots, most notably the interactions between Marty and Bugsy, which do come off as a bit cartoonish at times. The most particular of those times being when Bugsy knocks Marty to his feet with the old shoulder poke trick (you would think original and forever BEST Marty could have avoided that with his street smarts, gumshoe chops, and overall brains) and the grand climactic ‘fight’ between Hopkirk and Spanio that becomes all the more silly when you stop and think “What on Earth/in Limbo is preventing Bugsy from flexing his ‘better ghost’ muscles against Marty?!” (Please don’t get smart and say budget. :P) And yes, I did just admit that Bugsy is the better ghost of the two, BUT only for that episode, which is why, for better or for worst, I personally hold it to be essential Randall and Hopkirk Halloween viewing…one-legged contest between Marty and Bugsy warts and all.

Courtesy of Icy Twaine AND the Ghost Buds Tumblr.

Aw, don’t pout Marty…twenty-five out of twenty-six episodes ain’t bad (hey, per the episode’s title and its source dialogue, I believe I am entitled to at least one ain’t 😛 ). And in MY book, it is and will always be twenty-six out of twenty-six episodes, even if Bugsy does have a rather phenomenal plethora of powers…come at me Smiler!

10. “When The Spirit Moves You”– Ooooh! One more Halloween-ish aspect of the previous episode…Bugsy was quite the malevolent spirit between haunting his chosen one, Paul Kirstner, for the sole purpose of getting revenge and trying to whack him AND threatening to terrorize Jeannie and ‘fix her for good’. Marty is much more benign, having only told Jeff he was ‘haunting’ him once in “But What A Sweet Little Room” (“Only I can see you Marty, and I sometimes wonder why.” “Because I’m haunting you.”). But here is one of only two episodes that Marty uses his threat of haunting in a considerably more frightening (but definitely awesome) manner. His ‘victim’ being none other than Calvin P. Breem, the world’s worst conman…who almost escapes that title when he manages to get Jeff into the pokey for a shooting he did not do. Certainly not if Marty can help it, as he brilliantly demonstrates in this clip.

I especially love the tone to Marty/Kenneth Cope’s voice throughout this amazing scene, complete with the deliciously ghoulish laugh.

In spite of its berth on this list, this is one of the ultimate gold standard episodes, and for me personally, is interchangeably #5 in my all-time top five, only switching places with “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” because I am admittingly indecisive like that. Just a little all too easy to do with classic and BEST Randall and Hopkirk. But this episode has it all…FANTASTIC cast (including the late, great Anton Rodgers as Calvin P. Breem) and OUTSTANDING story and concept…I will always love when the writers figured out ways to have otherwise non-psychics be able to see and/or hear Marty. Things like that are what make me wish there had been at least a second season/series…that AND characters with incredibly strong return potential like Mr. Breem. No way was he going to stay on the wagon nor away from London…

9. “Who Killed Cock Robin?”– What is Halloween without a seance, or more particularly a session of Ask The Glass, an improvised version of Ouija done with a wine glass in place of the placard and cards with letters and numbers concentrically spread around a table instead of a board. ”Who Killed Cock Robin?” is the one and only instance in the entirety of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) when Ask The Glass was utilized as part of a plot (unless you count the alternate/these days regular introduction with a glass moved by a hand to indicate Jeff Randall and then Marty Hopkirk right before he is killed). Do note that it is only Ask The Glass that is being talked about here, NOT seances in general, for those do play a more significant role in the series, and will be discussed later. The use of Ask The Glass is very, VERY important in that it is not only crucial to the climax of “Cock Robin”, but it also and especially solidifies the establishment of a subtle, but sometimes strong psychic link between Marty Hopkirk’s spirit and Jeannie Hopkirk’s mind/spirit, as evidenced by the struggle with another woman at the session’s helm before Jeannie takes over.

As for the episode itself, I have to confess that it is a middle of the road/somewhat lesser one for me personally because I have never been the largest fan of Agatha Christie knockoff plots, which the storyline is, just centered around a collection of birds. But there are saving graces in the forms of a couple of impeccable Marty moments, notably his interaction with Gabrielle Howe in the aviary (and trying to wake up Jeff in the process) and the aforementioned Ask The Glass sequence.

8. “The Trouble With Women”– Whether or not Ask The Glass/Ouija may be genuinely considered a seance of sorts, we could always consult The Society of Spiritualists (North London Division) about such matters. But something tells me that they do not monkey around with ‘mere parlor games’ while they can conduct REAL seances, complete with a medium. As I mentioned in the previous entry, seances do indeed and quite naturally play a significant role in the Randall and Hopkirk mythos, and this is one of two such occurrences. This particular use of seances may not be the meat of the episode like its soon-to-be-talked-about sibling (you just knew it too would be on this list), but it is a major part of the climax AND, for my money, easily one of the three best parts of an episode (the other two being the beginning with Marty accompanying Jeff AND proving that his bitter cold presence does not affect Jeff, and of course, Marty helping Jeff cheat at poker) that while not the best one, is certainly one of the better episodes with a more straight detective plot. Also, both the portrayal of several spirits trying to make use of a seance (we see that not all spirits don a white suit (the one who tells Marty “And you can push off!” sports a white turtleneck sweater, as well as one of the spirits had a been a chef and another a soldier in their physical lives) and how Marty manages to jump the queue is splendidly and humorously done AND a must-include for any and all Randall and Hopkirk Halloween viewing.

Oh, and one more thing…you would think that at the stage this episode takes place in the London Weekend Television programming order (#23/the fourth to last episode), OR even in the production order (#9) after being telephoned by a hypnotized Fay Cracken (“It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”/#8) and a patient still under anesthesia (“You Can Always Find A Fall Guy”/#5), and especially after being contacted by the Spiritualist Society, all mentioning Jeff Randall, Scotland Yard would FINALLY be on to there being more than meets the eye to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Investigators, and at least give them a little more of the respect they deserve. Bloody skeptics…

7. “Vendetta For A Dead Man”– This is a tricky episode to place and judge on this list. I would argue that this episode is not the most Halloween-ish episode, and yet it definitely has a couple of elements that are very appropriate for October 31st…

  • – Jansen being, without any doubt, one of the two closest damn things to a psycho killer in the entire history/mythos of the series. For all we know AND based on his being in the prison’s psychiatric ward, the very crime Jansen was put away for was being a serial killer…although I realize that he was put away for only eight years. Well, what is to say that Jansen did not hire a savvy criminal lawyer like Ralph Sorrell?
  • – As seen here, the chase scene in the amusement park’s Hall of Mirrors is extremely reminiscent of many a typical horror movie…just with the scary mirror shatters being done by the hero instead of the villain/killer.
  • – The freezer scene with Emile Cavallo-Smith and Marty proving that despite his sense of humor and overall friendly and polite demeanor, he can most certainly have his downright vicious and brutal moments when and if need be.

But back to Jansen…he is the second best antagonist in original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk history, and all credit and some goes to George Sewell and Donald James for that. This episode is easily, EASILY a top-fiver for me personally between Jansen himself, Jeff and Marty having some of the most spot-on characterization of all series entries, this episode being far and away the best Jeannie-centered one, and the story being the utmost beautiful melding of straight detective, supernatural, and suspense in the entirety of the franchise. And as much as I wish to have this in a much higher position than it is on this list, again, its Halloween-ness is up in the air, and a matter of personal perception…so dead middle of the list it has to be.

Although, a factor that could up the Halloween potential of this episode is that had there been at least a second season/series, what is to say that Jansen couldn’t have returned as a ghost? And between his mental instability and flat-out heinousness, I bet his vibrations would make Bugsy Spanio’s seem remarkably tame.

6. “All Work And No Pay”– You cannot get a more perfect segue between the ‘not as Halloween-ish, but kinda Halloween-ish’ episodes and the mostly Halloween-ish entries than this particular one…apart from someone being saved for a bit later, Randall and Hopkirk rogues gallery members do not get any more Halloween than the Foster Brothers.

  • – They are always dressing like morticians.
  • – Their vehicle of choice is a Hearst.
  • – Their home looks exactly like a direct lift of the Addams and Munster mansions, complete with all sorts of Gothic and eccentric decor and what appears to be a permanent Ask The Glass setup (but later on, it is replaced by a circle of tarot cards) on their main table in their drawing room.
  • – They have such an obsession with contacting the dead to the point of resorting to murder to ‘create their own spirits’.
  • – And their obsession is such that they also have to resort to non-supernatural means/I.E. all sorts of ridiculous machinery to get their poltergeist kicks, and at times in a rather lethal manner.

With such aspects, and most especially intentions, you would think that the Super Foster Bros. would truly be the highest placed in the upper echelon of Randall and Hopkirk villains…so what is holding them back?

While not nearly as jarring as “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave”, I personally regard the storyline surrounding the Fosters as among the somewhat weaker of the series. It is a ‘Don’t get me wrong.‘ thing…the episode has its moments, particularly Jeff’s laundromat lunchtime/the rare tiny bit of history about Jeff and Marty and their friendship (as well as finding out that money, fame, and most especially time do not matter to those of a spectral nature), seeing what is quite possibly the most enormous extent of Marty’s powers of the entire series (his vibrations can affect an ENTIRE POWER GRID!!), and the climax with a nude woman wrapped in a newspaper (I am not at all making that up and will say no more to further prompt you to buy the Blu-Rays/DVDs and watch the episode 😛 ). But the overall plot of the Fosters goading Jeannie into working for them AND relying on her naivety towards themselves and their objectives borders on a teeny tiny bit grating.

But if it is any consolation to any and all fans of this episode, I do indeed believe the Fosters to be among Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s best baddies, and having intense return potential had there been a second season/series or beyond. If anything, and at the very least, to deservedly lay claim to being in a stronger episode.

5. “The House On Haunted Hill” – What is a franchise centering around a ghost protagonist without a haunted house? The very title sake alone lands this episode an automatic #5 berth…even if most likely fake. The ending does seem to want to hint that there might, MIGHT be an actual ghost haunting Merston Manor when one seemingly replies to Marty Hopkirk’s joke about his wife’s family and sister at the episode’s near-end. But the laughing ghoul sounds just like one of the ‘few lousy sound effects’ (thank you Jeff Randall) designed to ward off unwanted visitors and would-be intruders alike, as well as alert members of what turns out to be a very covert criminal operation…so Merston Manor really and honestly being haunted remains up in the air. But between the honestly not lousy sound effects and Marty’s thoroughly classic reaction to those effects, the house is still the most rightful co-star of its episode. The other star is Marty of course between his being probably the only ghost in the world afraid of his very exact kind and the dwellings for which that kind are most famously associated. We also get to meet the famous ghost ‘expert’ (but not the only such thing in the series, for there is Dr. Plevett in “Never Trust A Ghost”) in Henry Mace Horsfall, as well as his evidently Sherlockian colleague, Frederick P. Waller…complete with shades of an upcoming episode on this list in that Horsfall seems to not be able to see spirits until Marty somehow, someway awakens his ESP, making for one of the most memorable AND personal most favorite moments of the episode. Also, remember what I said earlier about there were two people Marty threatened to haunt? Mr. Horsfall is that other person besides Calvin P. Breem.

This is one of the two episodes that feature Jennie (her surname/Jean’s maiden name is never ever mentioned), and the only one to solely feature her completely in place of her sister. And she really is more harmless here than she would be in “A Disturbing Case”…if anything, some of the humor in this episode, centering around Jeff’s not being one who wants to settle down and marry no matter how much Marty harps about it (“Hey..if you play your cards right, we could be brothers-in-law!”) and even more especially his constant attempts to land a date, would fall flat without her presence.

Another Halloween-ish aspect of this episode is Lattimer, the other closest damn thing to a psycho killer in the Randall and Hopkirk mythos as much as he absolutely delights in wanting to murder Jeff and Jennie and how gruesome such a act could have been, as well as give the series the closest thing to a jump scare moment when he is dressed as an Elizabethan skeleton. Jansen was a downright nasty character, but even he did not take as much glaringly obvious pleasure in what he aimed to do to Jeannie, his being a perfectionist about the timing of the would-have-been horrible deed aside. In that regard, an argument could be made that Lattimer is the second best ever Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) villain…decisions, decisions…

4. “For The Girl Who Has Everything”– One decision that is not all that difficult to make is having the other haunted hous, er, excuse me, castle episode be a tick higher than “The House On Haunted Hill”. Just like Merston Manor, Crake Castle is not really haunted, but there are certain ‘little things’ that rather nicely create the effect…

  • – Jean Claude’s Sir Hubert De Crake costume.
  • – And most especially Kim Wentworth‘s screams (which I believe raise the volume five notches from where it actually is on the television…careful with your late night viewing, boys and girls!).

The episode also introduces us to the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk mythos’ first and only ever ghost hunter in James McAllister, whose expertise is immediately questioned at the very beginning with his not at all detecting Marty’s presence in Jeff’s flat (“He’s not very good, is he Jeff?”). But to make up for that, “For The Girl” also gives us a character who is unarguably the best good clairvoyant (and really, the only one, if not two when counting the unnamed medium in “The Trouble With Women”) in the series, Mrs. Pleasance. She is also the centerpiece of the only two lowdown dirty shames of the episode…one, it takes Jeff and Marty way too long to remember that she can see and communicate with Marty and in turn help get Jeff out of Crake Castle’s priest hole, and two, that she was not kept alive for one more episode to help out Jeff and Marty again. But Mrs. Pleasance’s unfortunate passing does mark this being one of only a handful of times we see other specters besides Marty Hopkirk. In the production order, this is the very first time we see another ghost besides Marty, but is the second time in the London Weekend Television programming order, with “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” and Bugsy Spanio being the first in that sequence.

“For The Girl Who Has Everything” is a definite top thirteen entry, with a star-packed cast (including Lois ‘Moneypenny’ Maxwell as Kim Wentworth and Carol ‘then future Monty Python girl’ Cleveland as Laura Slade/Larry Wentworth’s girlfriend), exquisite characterization (Jeff and Marty’s Mrs. Pleasance brain fart moment aside), and a just well done story. Its having one of the more Halloween-ish atmospheres of the series just enhances an overall fine episode all the more.

3. “But What A Sweet Little Room”– Very appropriately with the earlier acknowledging/slight debate about the good clairvoyants of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), we are at the episode that presents the most questionable of such people. The one, the only Madame Hanska (played by Doris Hare alias Stan’s Mum in On The Buses), who whether or not truly good or bad, but definitely a late bloomer with her psychic prowess (making her the first ever such character in the production order, but only second after Henry Mace Horsfall in the London Weekend Television order) is certainly the most memorable supporting character of this entry and among the series’ best supporting characters, helped by her being the absolute focal point with her seance business and its ties to Arthur DeCrecy’s awful operation. The utmost Halloween-ish climax of “But What A Sweet Little Room”, particularly how Marty Hopkirk gets Madame Hanska to spill the beans about DeCrecy’s nefarious schemes (semi-rhyme unintentional), makes us want to believe that Hanska is and has always been good right down to this quote of Marty’s.

“Her aura was rather good…I had no trouble materializing.”

But if she truly was decent, why on Earth would she remotely entertain having any sort of hand in DeCrecy’s evil ways? And I mean EVIL ways…a house and/or a room designed to send clients to their final destination practically the moment they step foot in it? My dear dad, bless his soul, made this harrowing observation the one time he and I watched this episode…

“That house and room is just like something H.H. Holmes would have designed and used.”

For those of you not familiar with H.H. Holmes, he was the most infamous 1893 Chicago World’s Fair serial killer who utilized a ‘murder hotel’ for a great deal of his crimes. He sometimes is theorized to have also possibly been Jack The Ripper, but that is what a grain of salt and the rest of the Internet are for. I don’t know about all of you, but DeCrecy and his house of death being just ever so slightly reminiscent of such an heinous individual in history certainly makes him the most Halloween-ish of Randall and Hopkirk’s non-supernatural rogues.

Well, Jeff and Marty agree with me anyway.

In turn, even if Madame Hanska said to Marty/his Ancient Roman persona that she was going to stop her double dealing and start treading the straight and narrow, there is just no way, no how I can consider her ‘good’ with there being no telling how many customers she sent to their deaths under DeCrecy with their arrangement beforehand. In addition to being another top thirteen worthy episode, there is a very valuable lesson presented here, boys and girls…be extremely careful of the so-called psychics you choose to approach for the curiosities they present.

2. “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”– It should be said that the top three could and should really and honestly all qualify as a collective number one for this list and overall topic. Despite the chosen order, I am immensely hard-pressed to pick a definitive number one between “But What A Sweet Little Room”, this episode, and the upcoming entry. All three episodes have outstanding beyond outstanding Halloween facets, as well as beaucoups of general merit. And two of the three are a true testament to the sheer creative genius of Ralph Smart and how much bonafide love he genuinely had for the concept in all of its uniquely supernatural glory…golly, how I wholeheartedly wish he had written another episode or two. Smart was an absolute master at combining hardboiled straight detective with haunting ghost story. And I will confess that as much as I dig “But What A Sweet Little Room” and all of the fearsome factors of its plot, villain, and certain supporting characters, I have to give “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” the slight edge with its meticulously crafted atmosphere and everything, from amazing characterization out of the gate (which is phenomenal for a pilot episode) to Marty Hopkirk’s spectral origin and fireworks-like display of nearly all of his powers, that is presented in a nice and neat package. Furthering the Halloween ante are several visits to the graveyard, one of the said powers being the possession(!!) of Jeff Randall (the only display of such an ability in the entire series…too bad we did not see Marty possess someone at least one more time, unless what he did to Sir Oliver Norrenton in ”When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?” might count), and the one time we hear the (in)famous “Afore the sun shall arise anew…” rhyme (albeit in bits and pieces), among other things.

In general, the episode is gold standard through and through and should be an automatic top five for any and all Randall and Hopkirk ghosts. And although not as scary as Arthur DeCrecy and his literal house of horror, Sorrensen and ‘murders for hire’ are still formidable antagonists as trigger happy as they are, in addition to being among the most historically significant baddies of the franchise, if not THE most historically significant, with their being the reason Marty Hopkirk ends up as a ghost. And really, it just does not get more Halloween than the story of how, exactly, someone leaves this mortal coil and is transformed into a specter…or does it? 

1. “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?” – The only thing that can be even more Halloween than the origin of a ghost is the uber-potential death of one. You know you truly have a one of a kind series/franchise when a titular character almost, ALMOST dies twice, as Marty Hopkirk quite famously does in this episode when he is nearly exorcised. “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying” goes above and beyond the other twenty-five episodes with its having far and away the most supernatural plot of the entire series, and not just with Marty’s impending exorcism, but also Lord Grade knows what else Cecil Purley is doing to Marty’s being whenever our favorite spirit is not in Purley’s sight. Cecil Purley is, for my money, the most magnificent antagonist in all of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk mythos. With a classic gentle Englishman demeanor concealing the heart of a cold ghost killer, Purley has charisma to the nines. And with his being by far the grandest ever threat to Randall and Hopkirk in that he is the ONLY villain of all featured throughout the course of the series to ever remotely be a threat to the deceased half, Purley virtually is to Randall and especially Hopkirk what Lex Luthor is to Superman, The Joker is to Batman, Doctor Doom is to the Fantastic Four, Professor James Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes, etcetera. If any character makes Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s being only one season/series such a downright pity, it is Cecil Purley, for he had the strongest return potential of all baddies, and I would have LOVED to have seen what further villainy he could have committed, with or without the same gang surrounding him. Who, by the way, are certainly not chopped liver themselves with their overall scheme of not only torturing Marty, but also making a fool out of Jeff around Inspector Large (this episode is notably his debut) too.

In addition to a MARVELOUS story and cast, particularly the one, the only Charles Lloyd Pack as Cecil Purley (and I sincerely could not imagine the character being portrayed by anyone else) and Alexandra “Sharron Macready/The Champions” Bastedo as Carol Latimer/Purley’s assistant, this episode is simply the absolute creme de la creme of the series, and beautifully boasting the most iconic AND Halloween-ish moment in not only the entire history of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but also British and general television with the climax of Marty Hopkirk ALMOST (thank goodness) getting exorcised.

If these are not the most duplicated ever pictures from the show, they rank right on up there. The one on the left has been featured as one of the two British TV Classics postcard representations of classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), as well as a mini-poster on the back of an issue of Time Screen, among other sources. All further hitting home with what an utmost amazing episode this is, and THE ONE to screen at any and all Halloween parties, if you could only pick just one…

…But why pick just one? Why not screen/binge watch all thirteen featured episodes? Or even better yet, why not all twenty-six episodes? The longer and all the more Marty Hopkirk is allowed to haunt your Halloween, the better and all the merrier…right? RIGHT?! Don’t make Marty REALLY haunt you…

Happy Halloween to all fellow Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses AND Happy Birthday to me as of the 31st itself! Neat and coincidental fact: I was born at 3:30 PM EST, which is 8:30 PM GMT, I.E. when Marty Hopkirk was officially killed in the classic and forever BEST mythos…seriously!

Don’t let the ghost gangsters, goofy gothics, naughty psychics as opposed to good ones, and/or sneaky funeral home directors get to ya!

Caroline “It’s the REAL most wonderful time of the year!” Smith

This list, particularly the photos (which are the property of ITV Global Entertainment), as well all other eventual Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) lists would not be possible without the aid of these sources.

2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set and its bonuses, particularly the bonus image gallery for “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”.

2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

A profuse amount of thanks to these sources and their authors, producers, and everyone else involved…let us work together in being ‘Faithful Unto Death’ to keep the Randall and Hopkirk spirit alive.

And please, please, PLEASE buy the Blu-Rays and/or DVDs of the classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)…man and woman cannot AND should not live on Ghostess-written list articles alone.

Further Information:

YouTube – “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” (The ENTIRE(!!) episode available for viewing.)

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The Power Of Thirteen OR In Here, It’s Always Friday The Thirteenth

Happy Friday The 13th! And not just any Friday The 13th, but a rare one that occurs in October! There is no better day to indicate that Halloween is most officially upon us, and at the ridiculously high risk of turning those with triskaidekaphobia off of the program, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) does have some connections to the notorious number.

  •  – In the London Weekend Television programming order, episode #13 is “But What A Sweet Little Room”.
  • – In the production order, episode #13 is “When The Spirit Moves You”.
  • – One of the roulette numbers that comes into play with Aunt Clara’s winning streak in “The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo” is black 13.
  • – There were thirteen episodes in the entire run of the gawdawful Randall and Hopkirk remake. Just when you thought the fact it was even made was already scary enough… o_O

(No, I do not possess triskaidekaphobia…if I did, this post would not have even been a figment of my imagination AND I’d probably be afraid of my own birthdate/Halloween itself being a reversal of 13…but the remake and its people’s choice to have thirteen episodes instead of twelve total or six per series/season was an interesting decision, and yet painfully obvious with all that is eerie.

And, again, there I go having to control my gag reflex at the mere thought of the inferior Randall and Hopkirk laying claim to one more series/season over its forever far more superior overlord.)

  • – When I start getting list articles up and running on this blog, thirteen will be the magic number for such writings. Why? You shall find out quite soon…hint, hint. 😉 But trust me and I will go ahead and say that there is an actual reason for it and certainly not just to be ‘supernaturally cute’.
  • – Marty Hopkirk’s ghostly abilities top out at thirteen(!!) throughout the course of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).
      1. Manipulating electronic devices like phones, tape recorders, lighting/wires/circuitry (“My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”), machines (Sir Oliver Norrenton’s hypnosis disc in “When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”), transportation workings (“Money To Burn”), and power grids (“All Work And No Pay”).
      2. Wind generation via ‘breath’ and traveling/movement, as well as vacuum-like inhalation. The latter was only used/seen twice in “A Disturbing Case”, when Marty slammed shut the Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators office door and later tried to wake up Jeff at the Lambert Clinic. BUT may have also been used in “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” when Marty politely closed Jeff’s flat’s window after possessing him out of bed and the door to the graveyard.
      3. Possession. As demonstrated once, and ONLY ONCE in “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, when Marty seized control of a sleeping Jeff Randall and brought him to the cemetery in a trance-like state. Needless to say, I wish this ability and its effects could have been explored considerably more than it was.
      4. Telekinesis.
      5. Affecting minds/hypnosis/potential latent communication (including, in my opinion, being able to understand other languages as if they are English, as seen/heard in “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave” when Marty materialized in the German announcing booth at a football match) despite not being seen or heard. Yes, I do count all of this as one and the same…several times throughout the series, Marty proved that he did not need a person or people to be psychic to have an apparent effect on their thoughts, words, and even actions. As for hypnosis…well, if Marty can perform such a feat on animals (as demonstrated in “The Man From Nowhere”), then why not humans too? While all of the human hypnosis was not done by Marty but by humans/mortals, notably Dr. Conrad (“A Disturbing Case”), Sir Oliver Norrenton (“When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”), and Mesmero (“It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”), if it were not for those people and such moments, we would have never learned that Marty can communicate with simply non-concious people as if they themselves are actually dead. But in fan fiction, and one of three actually well done such works (and will link to one day on here if the works can be found/are still online somewhere) incorporating the Randall and Hopkirk universe I have read and by an author who easily, EASILY had the best grasp of the universe, Marty manages to hypnotize Jeff (after having to coerce him into trusting him with his advanced ability and that he would not incapacitate Jeff’s brain and sanity) so that he would feel absolutely no pain from a severe foot sprain caused by a trap set by the villain. Granted, it was not from the mind and pen of Dennis Spooner and his army of writers, but it was/is such a feasible (and not to mention smashingly cool) idea that certainly could have been canon AND further explored that I really, REALLY wish that Spooner and/or one of the script writers had conceived it.
      6. Bitter cold generation. To which, as I noted in my review/analysis of “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, Jeff/a chosen one is more than apparently immune.
      7. Can affect and control animals and their mental capacities. Again, I consider this all one and the same, despite such a power’s range varying depending upon the episode…Marty only affected animals in “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” (frightened off a cat) and “Who Killed Cock Robin?” (alarmed every bird with just his presence in the aviary), while he showed that he can also control them in “For The Girl Who Has Everything” (got a dog’s attention), again “Who Killed Cock Robin?” (got the birds to calm down with the shout of “SHUT UP!”) and “The Man From Nowhere” (as mentioned earlier, kept hypnotizing a dog into falling asleep AND commanding his dreams to consist of fields full of bunny rabbits and lady greyhounds).
      8. Gliding through walls.
      9. Materialization/dematerialization.
      10. Altering his voice (very famously in “A Disturbing Case”, when Marty had to make his voice like that of Dr. Conrad to help Jeff escape from the Lambert Clinic) and appearance before those who can hear and/or see him. The best and ONLY example of the latter being Marty and Madame Hanska’s talk in “But What A Sweet Little Room”, during which was the ONE and again ONLY time Marty sported another article of ectoplasmic clothing, specifically a Roman toga, instead of his iconic white suit. And to which the following from Icy Twaine beautifully and humorously pays homage. Courtesy of Icy Twaine.
      11. Being psychic/knowing when things are going happen/detecting auras and death. Once again, I believe this should all be regarded as one and the same. Even ‘detecting death’ such as whether or not there is a corpse in a room (as displayed in “When The Spirit Moves You” and right down to Marty saying “Jeff, there’s something wrong with this room…there’s a funny feeling.”, “Jeff, the vibrations are all wrong.”, and “That’s it! I told you there was something wrong!” right as the stiff falls out of the hotel room closet.), knowing when guns are still loaded (“Who Killed Cock Robin?”), and being able to ‘feel’ agents of death like bullets (“When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”) and poison darts (again “Who Killed Cock Robin?”) I honestly think qualifies as psychic elements in Marty’s repertoire.
      12. Making objects appear/disappear. As done once, and again ONLY ONCE in “The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo” when Marty got the roulette ball to disappear from 28, then appear on 29, ruining his Aunt Clara’s otherwise perfect roulette betting system.
      13. Making fresh flowers instantly wilt and die. Yet again, as done once and ONLY ONCE in “The Smile Behind The Veil”.

I very highly doubt that Marty Hopkirk’s known abilities rounding out at thirteen on the dot was ever remotely planned by Spooner and Co, although it is more than most certainly a wild coincidence. And yes, such a list is open to any and all interpretation, even with my cases stated. But hey, it’s made for a cracking article, right? 😉

And what’s a cracking article without another nifty illustration or two? Such as these most delightful ones from an artist and another Tumblr discovery by the name of Spook Doodles!

Courtesy of Spook Doodles.

Courtesy of Spook Doodles.

Both works are not only fantastic glimpses into what classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk would be like if it had been able to use a touch of CGI, but also further explorations of how awesome a Randall and Hopkirk comic could and still can be. I love both drawings, but particularly really like the first one with its outstanding interpretation of when Marty may decide to only be half humanoid in appearance and give his ‘legs’ a rest.

Again, Happy Friday The 13th/proto-Halloween, and who needs thirteen ghosts when a most remarkable one with thirteen powers will do and some!

Caroline “Jason Voorhees has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on Marty Hopkirk.” Smith

Extra! Extra! OR This Post Is Brought To You By The Letter ‘Aitch’

I want to take the time to talk about a wonderful website and its equally wonderful author by the name of Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder.

Aitch has the amazing distinction of having been at least an extra in over eight hundred productions without ever having to leave the United Kingdom. As if that is not incredible enough, he has also worked on the sets of certain productions like Highlander (the first movie, NOT the television series it eventually spawned), The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd: The Wall, four Carry On movies (Up The Khyber, Henry VIII, Abroad, and Dick), Billion Dollar Brain, Steptoe and Son, On The Buses (including the Mutiny On The Buses and Holiday On The Buses movies), The Two Ronnies, Yes Minister, Casualty, EastEnders, Z Cars, The Sweeney (including the Sweeney! and Sweeney 2 films), Fawlty Towers, Doctor Who (fourteen episodes!), Superman, and Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), among quite a few others. Naturally, Aitch’s resume, particularly the 60s/70s portion of it also includes several ITC/Cult properties such as Man In A Suitcase (“The Man Who Stood Still”), The Avengers (“Split!” and potentially other episodes), The Saint (“Legacy For The Saint”), The Champions (“The Silent Enemy” and “Twelve Hours”), possibly Department S, The Persuaders(!) (“Five Miles To Midnight” and “The Time And The Place”), The Protectors (“Dragon Chase”), The Zoo Gang (“Revenge: Post Dated”), Space: 1999 (seven episodes!), and The Professionals (“In The Public Interest” and “Fugitive”).

But Aitch’s most fondly remembered production, or at least among his most fondly remembered productions is that of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). And not just because he wore not one, but two hats during his time as a Randall and Hopkirker…when Aitch was not doing his usual bit work, he would be the stand-in/establishing shot walk-in for Mike Pratt/Jeff Randall. He would also help Mike learn his lines and, when time and work allotted, even have fun with singalongs and jam sessions.

“I was asked ‘’Would you be a stand/in for Mike Pratt if he gets on with you..’’
Now I’m going to say no to a years work. (Not!) We got on like a house on fire from the first day. Mike told me that he and Lionel Bart wrote all of Tommy Steel’s early songs, (Handful Of Songs, Rock With The Caveman and many more). With all the years I spent with the bands we had something in common. We used to have a sing a long in the dressing rooms or where ever we could.”
– Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, the 1969/Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down) of HarryFielder.co.uk

And he did not just get on with Mike Pratt, but also Kenneth Cope as well.

“We did twenty six episodes over the next year and Mike, Ken and I became good friends.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, the 1969/Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down) of HarryFielder.co.uk

And Annette Andre and Aitch went as far as to make up a song together!

“Annie was wonderful..always laughing. And we made up a song..do you want to hear it? Do you want to hear this song? Listen to this.. “Randall and Hopkirk and widower Jean, together again on the telly machine!” *chuckles* That was wonderful…we used to sing that on the set. I mean, it was a bit camp, but that doesn’t matter..it was fun.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

Also per the always highly recommended 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s documentary, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, Aitch even tried his hand at writing out an idea or two for stories/scripts! Which is discussed at 0:29-53 here.

Of the said usual bit work, the onlooker in the “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” episode is by far the most infamous in not only Randall and Hopkirk, but also general British Cult TV circles…and as Aitch himself will tell you, it was not even his own voice!

Although I appeared in a few crowd scenes during the series my claim to fame are those immortal words I say to the onlookers as Hopkirk is run down by the bad guys car.. I compose myself and utter “He’s dead!”. I had a few fan letters in after that scene was shown on TV suggesting I go back in the timber game.. (It wasn’t even my voice, it was dubbed..)” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, the 1969/Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down) of HarryFielder.co.uk

These are only a few (well, actually several with the above video) of myriads and myriads of stories Aitch masterfully tells of such an astounding career all throughout HarryFielder.co.uk. And I not only wholeheartedly recommend reading those stories on the website when you can, but to also purchase Aitch’s book as well. An absolute must for any and all Randall and Hopkirk ghosts as well as those who greatly admire, enjoy, and support British entertainment to the nth degree. And closing words do not get any better than this, as said by Aitch about his time on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)

“It was great to work on, and everyone was friendly.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

Caroline “Every little bit counts.” Smith

PS:

Best wishes to you too Aitch, and thank you for the above each and every day!

Off The Wall OR Poster Child

I am proud to say that I have procured some downright cool and groovy items in my Randall and Hopkirk collecting over the years. But I would dare say that they do not come cooler and groovier than the India travel brochure and Martin Sharp Cannabis Rally (which took place on July 16th, 1967 in London’s Hyde Park) poster that can be seen behind Jeff Randall’s desk in various shots throughout the series.

One late night a decade ago, I got to be quite curious about those items, and did some research, as well as come upon the India brochure on eBay for only $5-10 USD. Needless to say, I grabbed that sucker, and did not look back. I am glad I did to this day and forever because ever since then, I have never, ever seen another copy of that brochure emerge on eBay or anywhere else. Just to be clear and as far as I know, the brochure I have is NOT the very one Mike Pratt owned and transformed into one of Jeff’s own office decorations…although, believe me, I wish it was.

   

As can be seen in the photos, the region of India focused upon was Assam, best known for its tea, silk, and unique wildlife (such as the Indian rhinoceros and wild water buffalo, as utilized in the featured illustration). Unfortunately, there is no indication of who personally did the artwork, but in my opinion, despite being printed in 1959, you honestly ALMOST cannot get more 60s/Swinging London than the outside of that brochure. I say ALMOST because there is still a certain gold and orange poster that can, more often than not, be seen next to said advertising for India/Assam tourism.

That poster, crafted by Martin Sharp, the very man behind the counter-culture magazine OZ and the cover art for Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire (as well as co-wrote “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” and “Anyone For Tennis” with Eric Clapton), took me awhile to obtain due to its rarity AND costing a pretty penny. But it was well worth the wait, and I have to say that be it on film from 1968/69 or on a digital camera today, mere video and photos just cannot express what a stunningly gorgeous work of art this poster is.

Again, my copy is not the very poster you see behind Jeff Randall’s desk, nor the one you VERY BRIEFLY see in the corner of his flat if you keep your eyes peeled during the Jeff’s date part in “Never Trust A Ghost” (if it is not the same one moved over from the office set)…

…although again believe me, I wish. Of all the pictures and art in my home and possession, the Cannabis Rally poster is far and away the standout piece and a top favorite of mine as instantaneously as it catches many an eye with its extravagant but utmost worthy use of gold. The true and absolute epitome of Swinging London culture and 60s/hippie art…and to think I would have never owned it nor would wake up to its phenomenal glory every day if it had not been for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and most especially Mike Pratt taking it upon himself to incorporate his personality and psychedelic tastes into the Jeff Randall character…thanks Mike.

Caroline  “Remember when we were in Afric…er, India?” Smith

PS: Another two weeks have passed since the last time I mentioned it, but please, PLEASE support Randall and Hopkirk Revisited. Time is running out, and it will be heartbreaking to see the original and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk’s one shot at a MUCH deserved sequel be lost. Please, my fellow Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses, let’s make it happen.

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This Is The Interlude This Is OR KC and The Sunny Jim Band

Just a few days ago, I made an outright STUNNING discovery on Spotify…in addition to the near entire original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) soundtrack, there are also some pretty downright cool, humorous, and RARE tracks from the pre-Randall and Hopkirk portion of Kenneth Cope’s illustrious career. A few years before he was Marty Hopkirk, Kenneth Cope became a household name through not one, but TWO shows…Coronation Street and That Was The Week That Was (alias TW3). It was around that time, 1963 to be specific, that Cope was approached about recording a single record/two songs with composer Tony Hatch and a backup group called The Breakaways (NOT The Sunny Jim Band…sorry Corrie fans 😛 😉 )…those two tunes ended up being “Hands Off! Stop Muckin’ About” and “Why Am I So Shy”, the A-side and B-side respectively. And although not a tremendous hit (BUT was the closest thing to a hit single Kenneth Cope ever had), “Hands Off!” did end up landing Cope a disc jockey job with Radio Luxembourg during the mid 1960s.

To my delight AND surprise, given how rare the single is, “Hands Off!” is on Spotify(!!), and at the very moment of discovery, was naturally put onto the official radio station for this here place. And for those who don’t feel like waiting for “Hands Off!” to come around or press the skip button however many times or scroll down, it is also available on YouTube along with its B-side sibling (“Why Am I So Shy” will probably never be on Spotify…genuinely hope to be wrong about that, but its scarcity makes “Hands Off!”‘s rarity seem common in comparison, and to the point of I’m honestly amazed it is on YouTube).

As neat as it is to find “Hands Off!” for Spotify posterity, an even more sweet discovery is several of Cope’s skits from That Was The Week That Was…something I never, ever thought I would happen upon outside of YouTube (again). For those of you not familiar with TW3, it was not your father’s news satire show…in addition to being hosted by a certain David Frost (yes, THE David Frost), the topics covered and parodied tended to be pretty damn cutting edge stuff for its time.

Bear in mind that this was done in 1963.

The Kenneth Cope TW3 skits and tracks found on Spotify (and also included in this blog’s radio station) are the theme song, “Emergency Call”, “Peter Cadbury”, “Stop Press”, “Ad Nauseum”, and “Skybolt”.

Also featured in the blog’s official playlist, alongside other equally great late 60s/early 70s/retro-centric music and other treats, are the songs that won Mike Pratt two Ivor Novello Awards, “Little White Bull” and “Handful Of Songs”, which he co-wrote with Lionel Bart for Tommy Steele; as well as Mike’s son Guy’s work with Pink Floyd and David Gilmour, and Kenneth Cope’s sons Mark and Nick’s work as The Candyskins (and Mark’s solo venture, Nine Stone Cowboy). Not being one to leave out wee ones (most especially as much as the classic and BEST Randall and Hopkirk has always appealed to kids and kids at heart), there is also a secondary radio station for them centering on Nick Cope’s solo work for children, and also contains “Little White Bull” and “Handful Of Songs”, as well as some good and gentle ‘young person’s intro to Swinging London/late 60s/early 70s music’ entries. 🙂

Caroline “Music and laughter makes the world AND Limbo go ’round.” Smith

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All Together Now OR Spirit Rally!

Courtesy of Icy Twaine’s Tumblr.

Well, when Marty Hopkirk is sighing/yawning, at least a little action really does need to get going…and most particularly with Randall and Hopkirk Revisited. I did my duty about two weeks ago and donated, and it has been AND especially is time for all of you to do yours. Even if a donation is a little much to manage, a link/mention on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etcetera is every bit as valuable and most appreciated all the same. The more of a word we can get out and spread about this BRILLIANT project and much more respectable homage, as well as help it and all involved, the better. As of my typing and posting this, there are only twenty/nineteen days left before the deadline…I hope they can extend the time for people to be able to donate, but I honestly don’t know if they will be able to do that. If they are not, then please, PLEASE give £5 or £10 IF you can, for every little bit does count and is certainly better than nothing.

I know it does not seem like a long time after my first post about Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, but two weeks is a significant amount of time, which could have brought about more donations than it sadly did. And without any acknowledgement, and constantly at that, the one shot the original and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) has at a much, MUCH deserved sequel and follow-up will be tragically lost. There is still enough time to make some headway, so please, one way or another, act now in lending this project as much support as it needs and some. Please do it for the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the original series, its cast and crew still with us and in spirit, Revisited’s cast and crew, and the Randall and Hopkirk community as a whole.

A tremendous thank you to those who have acknowledged Randall and Hopkirk Revisited thus far (including Icy Twaine, whose utmost brilliant animation is displayed above), and in advance to further hopeful supporters and donators.

Caroline “Although Marty may just be in a funk about Everton’s last four games (I’m right there with him)…between them and this, some goals most definitely need to happen.” Smith

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Be Seeing You! (I Wish) OR It’s Their Party

This was announced over a week ago, on September 5th to be specific, but better late than never.

Per The (absolutely fabulous) Unmutual, Annette Andre (who was in the episode titled “It’s Your Funeral”, which will eventually be reviewed here) is going to be one of the special guests at Network’s The Prisoner 50th Anniversary bash on September 29th at Portmeirion, Wales!! Also among the guests is a smaller degree of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but a degree none-the-less(!) in Jane ‘Sandra Joyce’/”Who Killed Cock Robin?” Merrow, who was in the episode titled “The Schizoid Man” (AND with another Randall and Hopkirk-er in Anton ‘Calvin P. Breem’/”When The Spirit Moves You” Rodgers as that particular episode’s Number Two).

Here at The Ghostess Talks, we take pride in being respectful (for the most part 😉 ) to Randall and Hopkirk’s ITC neighbours and contemporaries. And now is the perfect time to say that The Prisoner is a must-see for any and everyone remotely interested in the history of ITC, what is deemed British Cult Television, and/or 60s pop culture in general. As much as I sing Randall and Hopkirk’s praises in and outside of here, even I have to admit that The Prisoner is the most psychedelic series that ITC ever produced, thanks to the situations that truly did play with your head as much as Number Six’s, bolder than usual colors, mad visuals like the Rovers (actually weather balloons, and inspired by a real weather balloon that star and producer Patrick McGoohan kept seeing over Portmeirion), and especially Portmeirion alias The Village itself.

Speaking of The Village, back to the aforementioned event…unfortunately, if you want to attend, I am dreadfully sorry to report that the tickets have been sold out and for sometime now. Not at all surprising given the ginormous following The Prisoner has remarkably maintained throughout the half-century of its existence. Needless to say and on the behalf of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and its *sighs* smaller fanbase, I cannot help but be a wee bit envious.

That said, an interesting thing in common between the two shows…they both have godawful, way-off-the-mark remakes. I talked at length and some about Randall and Hopkirk’s remake a week ago in the post below/next to this one…The Prisoner‘s remake was quite eerily similar with its details. The grandest differences were that The Prisoner remake was American (produced by AMC…yes, the people behind freakin’ Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead) and intended to be a miniseries just like the original Prisoner, NOT an ongoing series. The similarities include a modernized plot that was honestly too ‘hip and cool’ for its britches, delving considerably more into the science-fiction/fantasy territory than the original ever did AND really ever needed to (the ‘mechanics’ of The ‘new and improved’ Village are to The Prisoner what Wyvern, the marathon trips to Limbo, and Marty Hopkirk’s ludicrous myriad of near-godlike powers were to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)), and hoping that the main cast containing massive star power with at least one member would make up for any and all numerous glaring weaknesses (Prisoner’s Ian McKellen as Number Two versus Randall and Hopkirk’s Tom Baker as Wyvern). And I can personally attest to the crappiness of The Prisoner‘s remake…I was witness to its first three episodes when they were brand new back in 2009. It started off okay…but then they introduced its own special form of the ‘mindfudge’ element, which was just a little too much Matrix-like (hell, the title cards did the code jazz, and all that was missing was remake Number Six wearing a Neo Coat a la remake Marty) with The Truman Show thrown in for good measure, and truthfully made all the more trite with the complete lack of elements of psychedelia and the mid-late 1960s. There was also hardly any distinctive color, figuratively AND visually, and down to The Village itself being a nightmarish mix of muted pastels and ‘Floridian/Californian’ colours, making the program all the more as bland and off as week old oatmeal. When it became more and more incredibly evident that they were going down the literal ‘The Village is not at all what it appears to be!” rabbit hole (and it was a maze I pretty much had figured out within the show’s first fifteen minutes…no joke), I revoked my viewer card and didn’t look back…a decision I have never regretted at all to this day and forever.

Anyways, to those who are getting to attend The Prisoner‘s 50th Anniversary bash (lucky all of you), have fun, and as difficult as it may be to do, try not to inquire about who does Number Two work for. Certainly don’t want anyone to be sucked up by Rover, or at the very least, be swatted with a rolled up edition of The Tally Ho.

Caroline “I bet all The Village’s muzak station plays is “Revolution #9″ and Number One knows how many ‘remixes’ of it.” Smith

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I Confess! (And I Am Not Going To Be Seated) OR Hell Hath No Fury Like A Ghostess Scorned

I can’t do it. I just can’t do it…I can’t review even just one episode of the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) remake. I tried, I REALLY tried, but I just bloody can’t do it.

I know, I know…I kinda sorta promised that I would review the infamous 2000-01 remake, talk about its connections/homages to the original and best Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and eventually also review its three books (two novels and a “The Files” ‘guide’) and the soundtrack and theme song single. But two hours into reviewing “Drop Dead” the night before last, I had an epiphany.

“Y’know, you really, REALLY do not AND should not have to torture yourself like this.”

And it was not just that thought, but also the realization that I was already in serious ‘hate-watching’ mode at not only the first episode, but just its first five minutes. Thirteen episodes of that is a wee bit much, and not just on a screen/monitor, but also in typing too.

There is also what I call the Oscar Wilde factor…and it involves one of my all-time favorite quotes from its author and in general.

“The only thing worst than being talked about is not being talked about.”

I much, MUCH rather talk about the 2000-01 Randall and Hopkirk remake for just two articles (this one and an eventual list about the mess-ups sometime down the line) versus SEVENTEEN(!!! the thirteen episodes, the two novels, “The Files”, and both the soundtrack and theme single reviewed together)…yikes. That would be an incredibly ridiculous amount of discussion (which would pretty much maintain the same theme of “What were they thinking?!” and “What the hell?”) for something that not only took pride in its being a virtual parody of the classic that remotely allowed it to be a remake in the first place, but also took pleasure in disrespecting facets of the classic to various degrees AND playing the ‘everything you did, we can do better!’ game. At least four quotes from the freakin’ “The Files” book epitomize this…starting with Exhibit A.

“The plots of the original series revolved around fairly mundane elements…thefts, murders, bodyguard duties. While other ITC series such as Department S and The Persuaders(!) did their best to break out of the straitjacket of naturalistic drama, the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) seemed determined to break back in. Despite its limitations, people seemed to like it.” – Andy Lane (author of “The Files”)

Yes, people DID AND DO like it…and immensely more than most people have ‘liked’ the remake. Also, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Department S were filmed at the exact same time. So maybe, MAYBE The Persuaders(!) was more groundbreaking than those two programs with its coming a couple of years later, its actually being filmed abroad, AND sporting the likes of not only Roger Moore but also Tony Curtis. But Randall and Hopkirk will always remain my utmost favorite, as well as the utmost favorite for quite a few people, for being so much more down to earth (and there really is a lot to be said for that) than everything surrounding, preceding, and following it.

“At the risk of offending anybody who was involved in the original series, it wasn’t that great. It was made very cheaply and quickly, and for various reasons they couldn’t really capitalize on the central idea. The special effects were fairly primitive, they were limited in what they could do, and I believe that after the first few episodes they got into trouble for dealing too much with the implications of one of the characters being dead, for dealing flippantly with death. I think there was a lot of religious pressure on them. So they steered it towards being basically a fairly straight detective series.” – Charlie Higson

Oh…oh boy. Yes, with the original and ALWAYS BEST series, there were concerns about how to tackle the subject of death in a way that handled it with kid gloves and yet kept it amusing and fun at the same time. Unfortunately, the fussbudgets still had ignorant words to say about it…but that was a given the very moment Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman came up with the concept. Fussbudgets were and are always going to fussbudget…and I would bet all of the tea in the world that a certain precious ‘better than that old thing’ remake and especially its considerably more classless take on death was not at all exempt from that very same criticism that plagued the original. The grandest difference is that one version more than most certainly deserved it far and away over the other.

Also, the version that never deserved such condemnation (and for the most part never had it THAT extreme…come to think of it, the disapproval was much more of a general one than of a religious bent, all the more contrary to the above quoted malarkey) did not have all of its straight detective episodes near the end. Ok, yes, there was “The Ghost Talks”, the last episode in the production order and was a detective story through and through with a living Marty Hopkirk, but the circumstances behind that changed the story at what was practically the last second. And to be honest, that was easily the most straight detective story of the entire twenty-six episode lot…the other twenty-five episodes have such a marvelous blend of detective, supernatural, comedy, drama, and even a smidge of absurdity in a couple of episodes, that you really cannot hang a genre label on the original and BEST series, no matter how hard people like Higson may try.

“The over-riding impression left by the original series is that, apart from the seedy offices of the detective agency, it took place almost entirely in hotel corridors, anonymous apartments, and warehouses, with the occasional excursion into the Elstree back lot for variety.” – Andy Lane

I wonder if he does his shopping at the Tesco miserably occupying the former ‘dreaded’ Elstree back lot. I have never cared at all for the tone in these quotes and the other to follow…both things, as well as the crass attitude towards original cast and crew, and my seeing the third episode/”The Best Years Of Your Death” for the first ever AND only time (all of my 2004 BBC America viewing AND intro to the franchise…no, I’m not at all proud…was the second series/season) in all of its fart joke laden glory, among other very off-putting things, are what royally turned me off the remake roughly ten years ago. I cannot believe I was considering doing seventeen blog articles for this rubbish. By the way, can you believe the above three quotes plus this upcoming one were printed next to pictures from the original and BEST series?

All the more proof that there are some things you just can’t make up.

“There was a sort of dinginess to it, it was all quite downbeat and, well, while it wasn’t exactly cheap looking, it wasn’t expensive looking either. It wasn’t something like The Avengers, which was an absolute classic and was very stylish and had a lot of memorable bits and memorable characters. A lot of people can’t even remember who the original actors were.” – Charlie Higson

Okay, that very last sentence’s syntax and juxtaposition makes it sound like it is talking about the Avengers actors (and as you can see in the above picture, I did not alter it at all). But it is aimed at the original Randall and Hopkirk actors, and what a load of “Our show is infinitely better than that old, wretched show ever hoped to be.” horse manure. I am sitting here gobsmacked as I am typing this…I already knew, for the most part, the remake people very unnecessarily took it upon themselves to deride the original in “The Files”, but I had actually forgotten how bold, brassy, and condescending it all was/is. What a difference not having read these quotes in a decade makes.

By the way, if the original Randall and Hopkirk actors were and are ‘not so memorable’, then I don’t think there would have been a Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Appreciation Society AND conventions in the late 80s and early 90s, nor would Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre have been receiving numerous upon numerous letters and autograph requests all through the years, and not just for Randall and Hopkirk but other projects as well. Mike Pratt has also been very fondly remembered throughout the years by cast, crew, and fans alike, and once had a terrific fan site devoted to him. Not to mention that if Pratt was so ‘forgettable’, his image would not have (sadly) been used in the remake. Also, the very same sets (save the Randall and Hopkirk office, Jeff Randall’s flat, and Jeannie (and Marty) Hopkirk’s apartment) happened to be used interchangeably between Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) AND The Avengers!!

One teeny-tiny bit of praise I will dish out is that Vic Reeves did actually compliment the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in “The Files”, stating that he loved it and always counted it among his favorite shows. While that was nice to see in a book that is otherwise cancer to the original and BEST series, I still say AND always will say that Kenneth Cope’s Marty Hopkirk has a hundred metric tons more class and style in his pinky than Vic Reeves’ Marty has in his entire way overgrown man-brat being.

And that there is the keyword that separates the two versions…CLASS. The original and BEST (I don’t care how much of a ‘broken record’ I tend to be with this, because it is the truth) Randall and Hopkirk may not have had the most extensive collection of sets, nor the most fancy, overblown, computer-enhanced effects, but it had class. And that class took on several forms…the enduring camaraderie and friendship between Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope, and Annette Andre (and really, the grand majority of the supporting cast and crew) on and off the set; the bonafide hard work and effort (and nonstop at that, given the cast and crew had absolutely next to no break in the fourteen months they worked on the series) that went into each performance in each episode, the genuine writing behind each script, the sheer heart that went into making the characters exquisitely likable (something that cannot said at all about ANY of the characters in the remake) and beautifully only human, leaving certain things to the imagination, not resorting to boorish humor and situations, and most especially noteworthy of all, nobody, NOBODY involved with the original Randall and Hopkirk went out of their way to bash another series, cast, crew, production, this or that to prop their own. That said, if considerably less bashing of the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) had occurred on the part of the remake people, as well as none of the terrible attitudes said to be had by the remakers towards any and all original cast and crew contacted, then I would have left well enough alone. But if supporting and defending the forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and its forever great people makes me a ‘fanatic’ that cannot be described with words from a dictionary from the 1950s per a quite unnecessary comment about the remake on a website to which I refuse to link, so be it. At least I am in remarkably good company with the likes of Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre, that is if ‘fanatics’ includes any and everyone who frowns upon the remake. And given the context of that comment, I think it should, and I know that Mr. Cope and Ms. Andre most definitely AND rightfully do not approve of the remake themselves. And I cannot blame them one iota between how one of them was treated when approached about participating in the remake and how two downright despicable characters in its very first episode/”Drop Dead” were named after Cope and Andre…Kenneth Crisby and Annette Stylus. Note how they did not just usurp Cope’s first name, but also his initials. Coincidence? I honestly cannot help but think not.

Kenneth Cope: “Did you see the remake they did?”

Cyril Frankel: “No.”

Annette Andre: “Yes.”

KC: “It was totally unbelievable.”

AA: “I saw three episodes. I couldn’t believe it..such junk.”

CF: “I was surprised they didn’t consult Monty (Berman) and myself.”

KC: “Yeah..they asked me, and I refused.”

CF: “Good.”

KC: “They used stuff which we put in anyway. They shouldn’t have done it.” – “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” commentary, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

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“What I found with the remake was that the relationship and chemistry between the three people was absolutely non-existent. It really was non-existent, there was no relationship.” – Annette Andre, TV Zone #218/August 2007, “The Ghost Talks and the Widow” by Anthony Brown.

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“There was a remake…I nearly got killed because of it. The problem was Michael and I could act without being conceited in any way. But those two guys, they’re stand-up comedians, they’re very very funny, and I’ve seen them, they’re good, I like them, they make me laugh…but they can’t act. And I was in Liverpool in a taxi, and this guy had seen the remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and he was telling me how much he hated it, how much he loathed it, and that it was no good and not anything like the original. But unfortunately, *cocks his head* he was doing it like that, talking to me in the back, and he hit a bus head-on. And he could have killed me…that would have been amusing, I suppose, in a funny way. The ghost got killed by the remake!

They wanted me to do something in it, and they were a bit rude and silly. It’s so easy to be pleasant in life, and I got thrown about a bit. The ghost in that long coat* was so wrong. If they’d ask me to visit and give advice, or offer stuff freely and with love, I would have told them “Don’t let him wear the long coat, it looks STUPID!”. Anyway, he was supposed to jump in next to Michael Pratt, who was the original gentleman, who is now a ghost and in white, and because he did die for real, and the idea was he was a ghost and stuff. And they wanted me to come into the scene, but I refused. Anyway, he stood next to Mike and said “I am a better ghost than you.” And I just…they were abusing dialogue that was already in the scene directed at me originally. And I didn’t like it because it was taking the mickey out of Michael Pratt. And his estate was there, and somebody should have stood up and said no. And I did, but they used the bit, but I wasn’t in the scene, because I was supposed to make it a threesome as a figure in white, but I wouldn’t do it.

I don’t think it worked. They spent so much money on it…they spent more on one episode than we did on the whole of fourteen. And they had special effects, they had special effects which were great and much better than ours. But I’m very fond of when my ghost goes a bit faint when he walks through a wall because, as I told you, it’s on a sheet of glass behind the camera. But I got very fond of that because it was pleasant. We were in the hotel corridor once looking for an escaped person or something, and I’m jumping in the rooms, because it’s nighttime and to see who’s in. And I jump in this room, nothing, and the next one, nothing there…and I come out the next one, and I say “I’m terribly sorry, madam!”. Obviously, there’s a woman there, and it’s all off-screen, you don’t see it. It’s just a funny thing…it was my idea. They nicked it in the remake, and they disturb a sort of terrible, dreadful, perverted sex scene, which is unnecessary. What we prided ourselves on..much later, not at the time because we didn’t know it was going to happen..but now, the whole family can watch our show. And nobody ever, ever, EVER is going to be upset as a parent about their kiddies watching it with them. They’re not going to be embarrassed. I may sound a bit prune-faced and silly, but I believe there are some standards left.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

Caroline “That sound you just heard? A worldwide mob of teenyboppers and twentysomethings all breathing a sigh of relief that I left David Tennant alone.” Smith

* – That was/is what I call a Neo Coat, for it was very popular thanks to The Matrix being a super hot property at the time. Nothing SCREAMS 1999/2000 like a Neo Coat, and at one point during my high school days, I swear I saw at least five-ten different people wearing those very coats practically every school day.  They allowed remake Marty to rock that damned thing, and yet they had the bloody nerve to deem the original Randall and Hopkirk ‘dated’. That alone is funnier than all of the ‘jokes’ throughout the remake combined.

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